I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me and talked to me about crime since I resigned and announced plans to move to DC. Just this morning someone came up to my desk with eyes wide and said feebly: “You’re moving to Washington, DC? But it’s so dangerous.”
I’m going to go ahead and guess that these people haven’t been to DC ever, or at least not since the end of the Reagan administration. Because DC doesn’t even rank in the nation’s 10 most dangerous cities. (If I were moving to Detroit or Oakland, on the other hand, I’d expect some raised eyebrows.)
So here’s the deal with DC, and yeah, I’m biased because I’m about to move there, but honestly—would I make this trek if I didn’t genuinely like it and feel safe there?
1. DC has pockets of crime-prone neighborhoods—just like any other city in the U.S. Just like Denver has Five Points and Waterloo, IA has the east side. And really, driving your car every day is still the most dangerous thing that any of us do.
2. I’m not an idiot; I’m self-aware and don’t plan to trek around by myself at night.
3. WHO COMES UP TO SOMEONE WHO’S MADE A LIFE DECISION AND CRITICIZES THAT VERY CHOICE? Seriously, it’s called manners. Time to get some.
While we’re on the topic, let’s clear up a couple other things about DC:
1. DC isn’t all about politics. I was worried about that when I first visited, but it’s truly more than that. I’m most impressed with by the arts scene there. Of course, if you want to get involved in politics, it’s a great city for it. But you get to choose, and nothing is put in your face.
2. DC has a high population of African Americans which, because African Americans are the most HIV-prone population in the States, also drives up the number of HIV-positive Washingtonians. You can freak out about that, or you can accept this as part of your community and do your part to make a constructive contribution.
3. There’s some gnarly fashion going on there. Mostly in the realm of leggings and stuff. It’s hard for me to talk about. But it’s true and you can’t do anything about it, except wait for the trend to pass.
4. Virginia is for lovers, or so I hear. And for people who have the tolerance for bumper-to-bumper commutes in lieu of the metro. The city dies down pretty nicely at night on account of those who prefer the ‘burbs.
5. It’s not as touristy as you might think. Especially when compared with cities like New York.
6. DC has its fair share of protesters. So what? It’s kind of cool to see constitutional rights at work.
7. It’s a terrorist target. Yep. It is. And since 1978, 37 people have died from pulling vending machines on top of themselves while trying to dislodge food and bev items. Bad things can happen wherever you go. It’s no excuse to stop living your life.
Look, I never thought in a million years that I’d like DC, let alone move there. And, you know, I can’t say that we’ll stay there for a great length of time, but whatever time we spend there will be fun. All I can really tell you is that it’s not the same boring city you suffered through on school trips and family vacations.
That and that I love the cobblestone sidewalks. Even if they are a bitch to walk in with heels.
Now for some fun Washington-related links:
George Washington (he saves the children but not the British children.)
The Truth about Lincoln (he’s living in the forest!)
Dave Chapelle in DC (DC has changed…it was not like this in the 80s.)